PITTSFIELD — Town officials were cloistered with union officials and a fact-finding panel Thursday in the council chambers of the Pittsfield Town Office, attempting to solve the contract dilemma with police officers and dispatchers.
Fact-finding, which will take at least three days, was necessary after the police union rejected the latest contract offer by town officials, officials said.
The contract represents three officers and four dispatchers in Teamsters Local 340, and expired Dec. 31, 1993.
The major sticking point, before this week, appeared to be wages, according to Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty. The union’s bargaining unit rejected an offer made in April of raises of 50 cents per hour for police officers and 35 cents per hour for dispatchers.
Dogherty said that fact-finding, which is non-binding, will cost each side approximately $3,000. Both parties prepare briefs and submit them to a three-member panel for recommendations. The police union chose one panel member, the town chose one, and the third member is a paid, non-aligned person.
Dogherty said a major disadvantage to going to the fact-finding stage is that every aspect of the contract is open to negotiation. “Vacations, holidays, insurance … Now we have a chance to negotiate away those things and they have a chance to negotiate them upward,” said Dogherty.
Following the rejection of the contract, Officer Chris Tremblay, shop steward for the Pittsfield Police Department, said he was equally disappointed that the process was entering the fact-finding stage.